Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of London issues pastoral letter to clergy

The Bishop of London has issued this pastoral letter: Do this in remembrance of me.

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of London on the Eucharistic Life of the Church in London

A PDF version is available here.

His comments on the Ordinariate and the use of Roman liturgical texts by Anglicans in London are copied below the fold. The following excerpt is addressed primarily to other parts of the diocese:

Our liturgy is one which arises from the command of Jesus Christ, “Do this in remembrance of me” not in order to build a temple made with hands but to build his body which the gospel writers say has replaced the physical temple.

It follows from all this that obeying his command is an integral part of Christian discipleship. In this context there are a number of aspects of our own church life which deserve urgent consideration at the present time.

In some parts of our church it can appear that the service of Holy Communion is an appendix to services of the Word and not accorded the central significance which the express command of Jesus would seem to warrant. The reformers of our own church, Cranmer and Ridley [as Bishop of London] desired more frequent communion than was the practice in the late mediaeval Western church. Calvin also commends weekly eucharistic practice in his Institutes [IV: xvii. 46], “At least once in every week the table of the Lord ought to have been spread before each congregation of Christians.”

Despite the teaching of the early Reformers their intention was overtaken later in the 16th century by a near exclusive focus in some parts of the church on the ministry of the Word.

The recent conclusion of more than twenty years work has resulted in a wealth of provision for celebrating the liturgy. Styles will differ in tune with the culture of different parishes and communities and provision has been made for rich variety but there should be a common core and not least our celebrations of the Eucharist on Sunday, the Day of Resurrection.

On the Ordinariate and the Roman Rite:

Our part of the Church is not alone in having spent a great deal of effort on liturgical reform. At Advent, our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church will be required to use new liturgical texts. We can always learn from the example of other members of the Christian community and indeed our own liturgy has been reformed by reference to the testimony and practices of the Church of the first centuries.

In former times before the liturgies of our Church had fully recovered these early forms, some of our priests adopted the Roman rite as a sign of fidelity to the ancient common tradition and an expression of our unity in Christ. At best their intention was to contribute to the recovery of a tradition which is both Catholic and Reformed, while pointing the way to the liturgical convergence we now enjoy, not least through the work of the international English Language Liturgical Consultation. They also recognised the proper place in the liturgy of prayer for leaders in the world wide church in addition to our own Archbishop. This is especially true of the Pope, who is undeniably the Patriarch of the West and as head of the Roman Catholic Church is charged with awesome pastoral and missionary responsibilities.

Much has been achieved and the debates of previous generations have influenced the Church’s liturgical practice and contributed to a convergence of eucharistic doctrine and rites. So it is with some dismay that I have learned of the intentions of some clergy in the Diocese to follow instructions which have been addressed to the Roman Catholic Church and to adopt the new Roman eucharistic rites at Advent.

The Pope has recently issued an invitation to Anglicans to move into full communion with the See of Rome in the Ordinariate where it is possible to enjoy the “Anglican patrimony” as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Three priests in the Diocese have taken this step. They have followed their consciences.

For those who remain there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the Eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.

At the same time rather than building on the hard won convergence of liturgical texts, the new Roman rite varies considerably from its predecessor and thus from Common Worship as well. The rationale for the changes is that the revised texts represent a more faithful translation of the Latin originals and are a return to more traditional language.

Priests and parishes which do adopt the new rites – with their marked divergences from the ELLC texts and in the altered circumstances created by the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans to join the Ordinariate – are making a clear statement of their disassociation not only from the Church of England but from the Roman Communion as well. This is a pastoral unkindness to the laity and a serious canonical matter. The clergy involved have sworn oaths of canonical obedience as well as making their Declaration of Assent. I urge them not to create further disunity by adopting the new rites.

There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs but at the same time there will be no opportunity to claim that the Bishop’s directions have been unclear. All the bishops of the Diocese when visiting parishes will celebrate according to the rites of the Church of England allowing for permitted local variations under Canon B5.

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JCF
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JCF

I sympathize w/ the Bishop of London, but hasn’t he contributed to the confusion here? When one say things like “the Pope … is undeniably the Patriarch of the West”, one should know one is empowering those who would follow the bishop of ROME’s lead, not his own.

FWIW, Bishop Chartres, *I* do not have a “Patriarch”: West, East, North or South. That’s why I’m an *Anglican/Episcopalian*, not a Roman or Constantinopolitan!

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Just out of interest, what standing do these pastoral letters have? Are they personal musings or veiled instructions?

fr dougal
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fr dougal

Geoffrey Fisher lives! Winnington-Ingram is buried once and for all. But will anyone take a blind bit of notice on the ground? Doubt it.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

My first thought is that this clear guidance from the Bishop of London is much needed and long overdue. It has always been a sign of trouble in the United States when a parish began to use exclusively non-standard liturgies.

Also —

We have two pieces of news here in the American Southland that might be of interest.

1) A new bishop in the Diocese of Central Florida, the Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, rector of Calvary-St. George’s Church in New York City, elected today.

2) Some mysterious goings-on in the Diocese of South Carolina involving quitclaim deeds mailed to every parish in the diocese.

Peter Edwards
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Peter Edwards

This is extraordinary stuff, not least when seen in tandem with Truro’s & Birmingham’s responses to the Covenant. It’s like a new Reformation! Remaining Romanists being formally told to observe C of E liturgical norms – maybe for the first time in decades; and mainstream C of E members refuting a move away from Anglican Provincial and diocesan autonomy in all things legal. Three cheers for +Richard Chartres, a Catholic Anglican; and hopes for many more thumbs down to the Covenant.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Bishop Chartres is correct in supposing that some Anglican Church communities (usually evangelical conservatives)do not seem yet to have understood the fact the the Word of God is no longer solely contained in the books of the Bible.”The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (Gospel of John). Whereas readings from the Bible are read at every celebration of The Eucharist, this is done in the context of the ‘Word-made-flesh’ in Jesus Christ. Not only minds, but bodies also are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the dominical Sacrament, ordained by Jesus to empower ministry in,… Read more »

John Bowles
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John Bowles

This is an excellent letter and demonstrates the triumph of the Oxford Movement in turning the Church of England and the Anglican Communion into a eucharistic body. As a former Anglo-Catholic, now for many years a Roman Catholic, I am interested in the Bishop of London’s references to the use of the revised Roman Rite in some Anglo-Catholic parishes and to the Ordinariate, of which I am not, and have no intention of being, a member. The creation of the Ordinariate has effectively nullified the use of the Roman Rite in Anglican churches and the Anglo-Catholic rhetoric on corporate reunion.… Read more »

Mourad
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Mourad

When I first read the deed between the Lord Bishop of London and his suffragans establishing the “London Plan” for episcopal oversight, I was astounded to read in it a declaration of +Richard that he was unwilling to ordain any candidates for holy orders (whether male or female). A bishop unwilling to perform one of the primary duties for which he was consecrated? Then, of course came the inexplicable delay in the appointment of a suffragan for Fulham with alternative episcopal oversight being exercised by the Bishop of Edmonton “for the time being”. Now the latest call for liturgical orthodoxy.… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Mourad – the Church of England does not have priestesses, but does have priests. The history of the word “priestesses” in this context means it is likely to be taken as an offensive word, or as an insult by a number of the people who read your comment – which is perhaps not the response you would intend. We do have deaconesses, but women can also be deacons. Using the right word will aid communication and avoid unintended offence.

Richard
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Richard

The Pope dropped “Patriarch of the West” from his titles in 2006.

Kenneth Stern
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Kenneth Stern

This is a clear, charitable and much-needed restatement of the truths of the Reformed Catholic Church of England. It gives due honour to the Pope as head of the Roman Church, but makes no undue concessions in that direction. The appeal for unity within the generous latitude of the Church of England must be heeded not only in the Diocese of London, but throughout the C of E.
Bishop Richard does ordain to Holy Orders, but for the sake of unity he ordains only deacons, male and female, but not priests.

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

Hallelujah! This is a magisterial statement addressing long-standing problems at both ends of the churchmanship spectrum. I hope and pray that it may be widely respected and complied with in London, and adopted as a model elsewhere.
Is it really the case that only 3 priests from London have joined the Ordinariate? was one of these 3 the former and unlamented +Fulham?

Mourad
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Mourad

Father Ray Blake in Brighton also thought London’s episcopal call to order would not go down well with those clergy claiming to be “Catholics within the CofE” and he recounted this anecdote:-

“The great Peter Amigo, Archbishop of Southwark for the first half of the 20th Century met a High Anglican on a street who said, “I am an Anglican but I consider myself a validly ordained Catholic priest and I accept you as my real and legitimate bishop”. The Bishop replied, “In that case I suspend you. Good day!”

Robert ian Williams
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Robert ian Williams

Whether the revised missal or the previous ones, Anglican ministers should desist from using our liturgy.

If he was really magisterial,Bishop Chartres should sort out the eucharistic practices of his evangelicals who throw away the bread and wine after Holy communion.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

It is indeed pastoral unkindness and a matter of canonical disobedience when the Roman rite is used in a C of E context, or liturgy is more or less abandoned altogether as is apparently the case in some evangelical parishes ( I suspect this is becoming more widespread than the use of the Roman rite to be honest) But then as the Principal of Wycliffe Hall,one of the C of E’s foremost theological colleges, has recently told Virtue on Line, evangelicals apparently have a problem with the theology of bishops, have no confidence in the present bench and are happy… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

It’s about as magisterial as it gets within the C of E, I think, although clearly things are different across the Tiber. The whole tone of +London’s letter suggests that he would count it a great step forward if his evangelicals could be persuaded to celebrate the Eucharist regularly and with due prominence. Giving due respect to the consecrated elements might have to be the next step for them.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

“…the eucharistic practices of his evangelicals who throw away the bread and wine after Holy communion.” RIW

I don’t know that such a practice is particularly evangelical, or even necessarily reprehensible. Despite my Anglo-Catholic upbringing, I see no problem with pouring consecrated wine onto the flower bed, or crumbling up hosts to give them to the birds.

A much greater offense, and a typically evangelical one, is pouring unused wine back into the bottle!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Despite Edward being my up-brought A.C. colleague, I do not agree with him about ‘throwing (or pouring) away’ the consecrated Elements of the Eucharist. If Christ is truly present in these Elements, they should either be consumed immediately or reserved for future use. I am a Consubstantialist, but a devout one. Agape.

JCF
Guest
JCF

We may be getting OT here, but I can see it both ways re the post-Eucharist Sacrament. Reserve OR feed to the birds (also beloved of God!) . . . as long as it’s done devoutly. “Mindfulness”, as the Buddhists would say. God comes to Feed the World, and all who hunger (every kind of hunger) in it. TBTG!

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Whilst I personally think that the Eucharist should be the main Sunday service, I think this has come about as a result of the Parish Communion Movement rather than being a “triumph” of the Oxford Movement….. and not without losses. I feel sure the Oxford Movement Fathers would have been pretty distressed by the relatively casual and unprepared way many communicants now approach the altar week by week. In the English context it has also dis-enfranchised many “believing but unsacramental people” whose religious needs were assisted by services of the Word (like Evensong where there was often a decent sermon… Read more »

Toby
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Toby

The timing of the Bishop’s letter might itself be characterised as something of a ‘pastoral unkindness’ to those parishes which use the Roman rite. The letter implies that the decision to adopt the new translation was something which the clergy were imposing upon the laity. I am one of the churchwardens in my parish, and the decision whether to use the new translation was something which our PCC discussed, prayerfully and in good time, early in the Autumn. Irrespective of the merits of the positions, and I accept there are strong arguments against the Roman rite being used within the… Read more »

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

Toby:

I’m finding it difficult to summon up any sympathy for you in response to your post. It strikes me as a disgrace that you deprive the parish of the rites of the Church of England. Your role is to promote its ministrations not to undermine them, surely? What your PCC spent its time considering prayerfully was not its business in the first place. Or have I been missing something? Is disobedience for four decades better or worse than recent disobedience? Have you written to the bishop of London to seek a chance to make your case to him?

Richard
Guest
Richard

Does Advent begin early in the Roman Rite?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“parishes such as mine have been using the Roman rite for four decades. The Bishop must have been aware that there are many London parishes in that position”

Good googly-moogly, and yet Rowan wants to dictate to TEC how (via the Covenant) to be ****Anglican****??? O_o

I swear, the more I learn about the CofE, the less I understand it…

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“What percentage of the baptized are actually confirmed? 20%? I dont have the figures but I expect it is something like that. Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 23 November I don’t know what’s happening about Confirmation in England, Perry. I do know that here in ACANZP, the Sacrament of Holy Communion is offered the the Baptized – whether Confirmed by a Bishop or not! In the new understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism – at least here in N.Z. – the baptized are ‘full members of the Body of Christ’ and, as such, are encouraged to receive Holy Communion… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

I found Toby’s post most interesting and, as a member of a parish which has been using the current Roman Rite, I would be interested to know what were the reasons which persuaded his PCC to vote for using the new Roman rite. I can see (as can Toby) many reasons for not using it, but none for doing so. There were reasons historically, but +London’s letter explains very well why they are no longer valid. It seems to me that one could only attempt to justify a blatant breach of canon law if there were some very pressing theological… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Use of the old – or existing – Roman Rite has been a matter of appreciating it’s fundamental ‘catholic’ theological stance – on the important understanding of Christ being Present in the Sacrament. However, to move in synchrony with ‘Roman’ Catholic changes, for the sake of emulating Rome, signifies a wish to identify absolutely with R.C. liturgical revision. – Not a wise move for Anglicans who value their own adapted, catholic, liturgical tradition.

Toby
Guest
Toby

Yes, in answer to Malcolm’s point, the primary reason is one of theology rather than ecclesiology. This is that the eucharistic theology in Common Worship is not sufficiently unambiguous. (And I know people have said that if we want to use the Roman rite we should go off to Rome, but it is possible to accept the Roman Catholic teaching on the mass without signing up to every dot and dash of the catechism.) Fr Ron, I think if parishes are going to use the Roman rite it is better to use the current one. It would make the position… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

Thank you Toby for answering my question. I understand and respect your position but, for me, the very ambiguity which you find unacceptable has been what has kept the C of E mostly together for centuries, ever since the ‘Elizabethan Settlement’ and the famous Elizabethan verse which +London quoted in his letter. If the words allow me to believe what I believe, then that is enough for me. That the same words may be taken by someone else to allow what they differently believe, may be regrettable and less than the ideal, but it is still far better than schism,… Read more »